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About us

Established in 1966, the Ulster Orchestra is Northern Ireland's professional symphony orchestra and a cornerstone of our diverse cultural identity.

Our mission is to enrich life through music and our core purpose is to bring people on a journey through a world of music that is rich, diverse and has the ability to draw people together from all walks of life, backgrounds and ages.

Orchestral First
The Orchestra has established itself as one of the major symphony orchestras in the United Kingdom and Ireland and gives 80-90 performances each year. JoAnn Falletta is the Orchestra's 12th Principal Conductor and the first female and the first American to be appointed to the post. The New York Times described her as one of the finest conductors of her generation.

Hungarian born Tamás Kocsis leads the UOs 62 full time musicians whose main concert season takes place in the Ulster Hall and the Belfast Waterfront from September to June. The Orchestra also performs at venues across Northern Ireland and beyond, in places as diverse as the Alley Theatre in Strabane, the Royal Albert Hall in London, the National Concert Hall in Dublin, the Millennium Forum in Derry/Londonderry and the gardens of Hillsborough Castle.

The Orchestra's major funding partners include the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (its principal funder), the BBC and Belfast City Council. The Orchestra also plays an integral part in Northern Ireland's economic life and values its growing relationship with businesses across the region.

With some 70 recordings notably for Chandos, Naxos, BMG, Hyperion, Priory and Toccata Classics, the Ulster Orchestra also has a unique relationship with the BBC as its exclusive broadcast partner. Performances are relayed on BBC Radio 3, Radio Ulster and BBC TV. The mix of commercial recordings and streamed internet broadcasts has considerably enhanced the Orchestra's international reputation.

For its educational/community programmes (30,000 people of all ages and musical abilities take part in the Orchestra's education concerts and outreach programmes each year) and approach to business, the Orchestra has won a number of awards which include:

Inaugural Royal Philharmonic Society Educational Award (1998)
London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Inspire Mark (2008)
Allianz Arts & Business Award Arts, Business and Employees category for The Building Blocks project with the Patton Group (2009)
Allianz Arts & Business Award Arts, Business and Young People category for the Up the Tempo project with the Ulster Bank (2009)
Allianz Arts & Business Award in recognition of its community work with The OUTLET (2010)
Allianz Arts & Business Award in recognition of its community work with JTI (2011)
Belfast Business Awards Best Marketing Initiative (2011).

2013/2014 Season

This year the UO brings a new approach to the concert series with the addition of Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon performances, offering more opportunities for new audiences to attend. Highlights this Season include symphonies by Sibelius, an exciting work for percussion and orchestra by contemporary Finnish composer Rautavaara, and Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs sung by Katherine Broderick.